Kenya sees no legal basis for AU to block Kibaki's presidency

By Abwao Oluoch- PANA Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Union has no "legal basis" not to recognize Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki who is expected at the heads of state summit despite the opposition's warning that such a move would upset AU-sanctioned political talks.
Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said in Addis Ababa on Monday that the embattled Kenyan leader would arrive at an unspecified time to attend the AU Summit slated to kick-off in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday.
Speaking minutes after the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General Anyang Nyong'o called on the 53-member political body not to recognize Kibaki as President, Wetangula said he was legally attending the foreign ministers meeting.
He said nobody had questioned his capacity as the duly appointed minister and added that nobody had the legal basis to question Kibaki's legitimacy.
The AU meeting is expected to discuss Kibaki's contested re-election and other important issues, which might be overshadowed by the political crisis, originally meant to discuss Africa's industrialization.
A senior Kenyan envoy has confirmed the political crisis has been included on the agenda and has also featured prominently in the AU Commission President Alpha Konare agenda to the African leaders.
Sources disclosed that Nairobi lobbied hard to exclude the issue from the agenda but South African diplomats have lobbied to have the issue discussed at a special summit to be convened soon specifically dedicated to the issue.
Wetangula said the Kenyan leader would be coming to Addis Ababa but did not state the date of his arrival, insisting that his schedule was unpredictable.
The statement came minutes after the opposition ODM asked the AU to slap sanctions on the Kenyan leader.
Wetangula told journalists the AU "has no basis" to block Kibaki or either of his ministers from attending the continental meeting.
He reiterated that Kibaki was ready to negotiate with the opposition to help find a lasting political solution to the crisis.
"We are appealing to the AU to call upon its members not to recognize the illegitimate government of Mwai Kibaki because he used the threat of force to have the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) to declare him winner," Nyongo said.
"If the AU maintains the status quo, this would lead to the balkanization of Kenya.
Any recognition of the government would negate the whole rationale for the AU-mandated international mediation efforts led by Kofi Annan," Nyongo said.
"It is imperative that the AU does not take any action that would prolong the suffering of the people of Kenya and undermine the Union's strong attachment to democratic principles of free, fair and transparent elections," he added.
Nyong'o said the opposition believed Kibaki's government had been established by unconstitutional means and therefore should face the AU sanctions as specified in the Constitutive Act.
The Act mandates the AU to intervene in a situation to preserve peace.
It also classifies an unconstitutional government as one that rises to power as a result of interventions by the armed machineries or a government that refuses to relinquish power to the winning party after free and fair elections.
Meanwhile, the European Union ministers have warned that massive aid cuts are part of a strategy to force the Kenyan leader to negotiate with the opposition on a power-sharing pact.

28 january 2008 18:41:00




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